Sometimes you’ll dream that you have to make a choice. This is very valuable information you’re getting because the dream is helping you with a choice in real life. This could be a choice between two courses of action, two people, two beliefs, or two approaches to some situation. As an example, let’s examine how dream choices work in one of my recent dreams.

The Dream

I’m traveling. I’ve just landed at an airport. The authorities want people who have magazines to go through a special checkpoint where they’re examined more closely. I approach two checkpoints. The one on the right is the regular one, and the one on the left is where people with magazines have to go. I have a magazine with me and am debating whether to walk through the special checkpoint with my magazine or to hide it and go through the regular one.

The Dream Interpretation

The dream environment shows that I’ve progressed in some situation (traveling) and even rose to a higher level of consciousness for a time (flying doesn’t always mean this, but it does in this case.) Now it’s time to get grounded again and apply what I’ve learned to a real-life situation.

The dream situation involves people who are threatening in some way. These threatening people could represent destructive beliefs, actions, or attitudes. The checkpoints are like gates of entry into the mind. We can see them as modern parallels to the gates of Hades in Greek mythology, which is guarded by Cerberus, a vicious dog who keeps people who don’t belong out of the Underworld and ensures that those who belong there stay inside.

The dream situation is a reflection of how I’m trying to get rid of some destructive belief, thought, feeling, or attitude. The problem is that this isn’t always healthy because the rule-makers may be from the past. The destruction in that case is actually a positive thing. Resisting it maintains the status quo, which is comfortable but not always healthy. If the “rules” you played by in the past limited your potential, the better choice is actually to go against the rule-makers and force your way through the gate of entry, so to speak.


Dream choices give you a chance to “preview” choices in real life. In some dreams, you’ll see what can happen when you make a particular choice. In others, the details in the dream will tell you more about what each choice is really about (such as the magazines did in my dream).

Try to relate each choice to the real-life situation. Evaluate the imagery in the dream in terms of how it relates to each choice. For instance, if a choice in a dream leads to a closed door, consider what a closed door in the real-life situation might mean. Does that mean you’ll have fewer options? Does it mean failure of some project? Does it mean rejection by someone?

I have two choices in the dream. I can play by the rules or I can get around them by trickery. The question is: Which choice will lead to growth?

The rules hinge on one thing, owning magazines. A magazine is a source of information or knowledge. We learn things from magazines. It’s also published periodically and contains new information (at least, at the time of publication), so it’s a symbol of new knowledge we’ve acquired. The “authorities” (i.e., that rule the mind) in my dream find this new knowledge threatening. They want to make sure that none of it is destructive.

A magazine can represent new knowledge that we're acquired. This is the first issue of Gentleman's Magazine of London, England, which was published in January 1731. It is the first issue of a periodical publication to use the word "magazine" in its title. Photo by Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers, courtesy of Wikimedia's Creative Commons

A magazine in a dream can represent new knowledge that we’ve acquired. This is the first issue of Gentleman’s Magazine of London, which was published in January 1731. It was apparently the first periodical to use the word magazine in its title. Photo by Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers, courtesy of Wikimedia’s Creative Commons

When I related the dream to things that happened in the 24 hours prior to the dream, it became clear that the authorities represented a fear of shaking up the status quo. I’ve been doing a meditation program from the Chopra Center that focuses on teaching us about having better relationships. The meditation from the previous day talked about how our essence is pure love, and when we express that pure love, we have better relationships. The real test, though, is practicing this when you’ve been hurt by someone.

I’d just found out that day that a former neighbor of mine had hurt me. As some of you know, I kept myself hidden from my abusive parents for 10 years. Throughout that time, they hired private investigators to find me. This woman, who’d been my neighbor for 7 years, was approached by them and cooperated with them. She helped bring my abusive parents back into my life.

I didn’t blame her for that, though, because she didn’t know the whole story. But I was hurt because she never even mentioned to me that private investigators had shown up in town looking for me. I couldn’t understand what it would have cost her to at least warn me that something was being hidden from me.

She’s now moved to another part of town, but I thought, If I ever meet her, I’m going to make her understand what she did and why it was a rotten thing to do.

But after the meditation, I thought about how I could handle the situation differently. I asked myself whether I was really the one to teach her anything she had to learn from what she’d done. I thought, What if I don’t say anything about it if I meet her again? What if I just let it go and trust that whatever she needs to learn, she’ll learn when she’s ready?

It was painful to think of, but I knew it was the right thing to do. The whole episode was over. It was time to take the higher ground and move on.

The magazine in the dream was about the knowledge I’d gained from the meditation, and that knowledge was very threatening to the status quo. It meant letting go of an opportunity to be righteous and even, in a sense, get revenge by making her feel bad for the hurt I felt.

Dreams often address long-term, deeper issues from what happens to us in our everyday lives. In this dream, the real issue is whether I’m going to make a major change in how I deal with the hurt other people cause or whether I’ll hang onto the old way of dealing with it. Will I follow the rules that maintain the status quo by hiding my magazine, or will I face the authorities of the mind and let them see that I had gained the knowledge to handle these situations differently?

Choice dreams are really a gift to us because they show us how we have the power to control many things in our lives, whether it’s what we do or how we relate to others or how we see the world. Even if you don’t have time to interpret an entire choice dream, it’s worth spending some time working on the actual dream choice because it will tell you important things about a choice you have in real life.